Drew McIntyre on The Rock Dubbing Him WWE's Next Big Star & 'SummerSlam' 2019
Anyone who knows Drew McIntyre or has followed his career in recent years can tell he is never short on motivation. However, it can’t hurt the psyche to find out you can count The Rock as a fan — Dwayne Johnson recently said McIntyre could be WWE’s next big star while making the media rounds for Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.
“It was unexpected,” McIntyre says of the praise. “Over the last few years, I’ve tried to push myself inside and outside the ring. The Rock is somebody I look to for motivation in general. If you follow him on social media, and when you meet him, he is such a genuine person. He works so hard, which is why he achieves everything he achieves. It’s a big inspiration to me to have that kind of backing from somebody I admire so much. That kind of validation means I’m on the right track.”
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No matter how much success he achieves, the Raw superstar remains humble and open to learning from others. There is no bigger example than the Scottish performer’s time sharing the squared circle with The Undertaker. By the same token, the 34-year-old has admittedly gotten a lot from collaborating with Shane McMahon.
“You can’t help but learn from those situations," he reasons. "I had a big opportunity to work with The Undertaker once 10 years ago, but I was around him all the time. He was pretty much a mentor to me. I learned so much from him back in the day, and it’s great to have him back now when I’m on a different thinking level.
"I’m at a point where I understand everything now he is talking about, and it doesn’t sound like riddles like it used to when I was a kid. I didn’t quite understand how the business worked quite yet. Working with Shane — someone where this is his life, he has grown up in this industry, he is able to teach me things in there I don’t even think about — to have the opportunity to work with these guys is an incredible experience.
"The truth is if you look at our roster now, there really aren’t many guys who have been around for a long, long time. Guys to learn from. So any chance I get to learn something that I can pass onto the next generation, I’m very happy. And who better for me to learn from than ‘Taker and Shane?” McIntyre concludes.
The decorated athlete has an unwavering work ethic and sets a high standard every time he walks the aisle. This is why it bothers him to know there are others who may not bring a similar mindset.
“When I say things about locker room complacency, I do mean it,” McIntyre states. “There are still some individuals who out themselves complaining on social media rather than doing something about it. I don’t have to name names. They put it out there themselves. If you’re not giving it your all, busting your ass inside and outside the ring, you know who you are. People are sticking up for the company, it’s just coming from passion. There are things that go a little too far, and I don’t necessarily agree with, but it all comes down to passion.”
Passion is surely something McIntyre is not short on these days, living through the highs and lows of the pro wrestling business. After an 18-year journey to get to this point he approaches the industry from a well-traveled veteran’s perspective.
“I’ve been in WWE and know how WWE works, but I have also left the company and was the busiest wrestler outside the company,” says McIntyre. “I was a part of Impact Wrestling, on the independents. I know what that schedule is like. I know what that grind is like. I can tell you no matter where you’re at, if you’re doing this 24/7, you have to bust your butt.
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“The truth is with all these new opportunities for wrestlers outside the company, it’s a good thing. And not just my brothers and sisters, but this industry as a whole. In the end, WWE has the hardest schedule of all. I can tell you that. I just want everyone to succeed.”
Among the recent developments the master of the "Claymore" kick is particularly interested in is the appointments of Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff to executive directors of Raw and SmackDown Live respectively. He believes the two can contribute in a positive way.
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“Paul Heyman is someone who I’ve worked with and gotten advice from over the years. He is somebody that understands Drew Galloway, Drew McIntyre, better than I do sometimes,” McIntyre. “I’m very excited that Paul is going to have more pull it sounds like because he breathes this industry and knows me very well. I had the opportunity to study under his protege Gabe Sapolsky at Evolve.
“Getting the opportunity to work with Gabe on such a high level as the Evolve champion and represent the company, then work with Paul, it’s pretty cool. I’m also excited to see what Eric Bischoff brings to the table. Obviously, he was involved in one of the biggest boom periods and angles in the history of our industry. He has that creative mind and understands the way a television network works. He is a huge asset to the company.”
One thing the audience's have noticed is fresh faces being put in different positions. Former cruiserweight champion Cedric Alexander is currently enjoying the biggest exposure since signing with WWE thus far. McIntyre is proud to have a small part in this growth.
“Working with the younger talent is one of my favorite things to do. I came back in a few interesting positions, but it has been pretty cool where i”m not quite thrown into the deep end, but I had the chance to slowly, slowly build and show everybody what I’m all about,” he said.
“With the newer guys, I honestly believe my style and size I can work with the younger flyers and technical guys. The industry has changed where I’m one of the biggest guys now who can work with anybody. So when you get somebody like a Cedric Alexander who has all the talent in the world, he is just waiting for the right matches, right moments to break out. If I get the opportunity to wrestle him on a big show like SummerSlam, it would be a big moment for him and for me too as a way to show I can go with anybody.”
One collision the imposing figure wouldn’t mind pursuing further is against Braun Strowman. The “Monster Among Men” clearly agrees, going on record wanting to face McIntyre in the main event of WrestleMania 36.
“When you think about it, Braun and I have had brief interactions on television,” McIntyre said. “Any time we come face-to-face, there is always a rumbling. When it comes down to it, people are still in awe of the bigger guys.
“Braun is somebody who can go with anybody like me. I truly believe if we can stay away from each other and built on our different paths throughout the year. If we come together then by WrestleMania, it will be the biggest money match we can have. It would take us to our absolute maximum.”
WWE SummerSlam, August 11, 7/6c, WWE Network and Pay-Per-View
Fans can meet Drew McIntyre August 9 at 5 p.m. ET at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre